I guess it’s one of those unspoken rules.
You don’t choose the same reading two Sundays running.
So to choose basically the same reading four Sundays in a row is pushing it a bit.
Maybe it’s because I sense it’s something we each of us need to take on board individually.
Maybe it’s because I sense it’s something we need to take on board collectively as a church family.
Or maybe, just maybe, because it’s something I need to take on board for myself at the moment.
We’ve looked at the birds of the air, we’ve looked at the grass that’s here today and gone tomorrow, we’ve looked at the lilies … well actually they weren’t lilies but poppies and thought not even Solomon in all his glory could be clothed such as these.
And each time we’ve headed for that final verse that seems to sum it all up.
So do not worry about tomorrow,
For tomorrow will bring worries of its own.
Today’s trouble is enough for today.
Trite. Obvious. Goes without saying.
And yet it is something so very special.
I was talking to someone this week who had just discovered the sacrament of the present moment. Lives live in the now and live life to the full here and now.
What a wonderful piece of graffiti on the Guides graffiti wall for the Olympics.
Yesterday is history.
Tomorrow is a mystery
Today is a gift
That’s why they call it ‘the present’.
But it’s easier said than done.
Clothes do matter, food does matter. And as for all those anxiities they mmost certainly can get you down.
Do not worry is not only easier said than done but it’s something often best left unsaid.
Do not worry is so often the least helpful of all things one can ever say to someone who is filled with anxiety.
I guess that’s why Jesus doesn’t just say, Do not worry.
He provides antidotes to worry.
Think of the birds of the air. Think of the flowers of the field. And there is something wonderful to take us out of ourselves and into the mystery and the wonder of the world around us.
But here at the climax to this passage Jesus does something more.
He offers us something to focus on – quite deliberately, to turn our attention to.
Strive first for the
and his righteousness, kingdom of God
And all these things will be given to you as well.
What’s Jesus inviting us to do? Turn our eyes to God. Seek out the
of God – seek ye first the and all the wonderful righteousness
and goodness and holiness of God? kingdom of God
That’s certainly something good to do – turn to God and see things differently.
But is there something more going on here?
That word righteousness is a fascainting word. Yes, it can indicate all that’s good and holy and right about God. But is a word translated ‘justice’.
Then I noticed from the footnotes in the NRSV that the verse can be translated differently.
Some manuscripts don’t have ‘
’ but just ‘kingdom’. The Greek doesn’t necessarily imply ‘his’
righteousness … it could just as easily be translated without the ‘his’. kingdom of God
So, how about this for a different way of reading this verse.
Strive first for the kingdom and justice, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Maybe the antidote for that kind of anxiety that is absorbed in all the worries that weigh you down is to strive first for the kingdom and justice.
Where do we find the values of the kingdom and that justice that we can focus on and find so helpful.
One wonderful passage is in Romans 12
I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.
We all have a part to play
It all bows down to the most basic thing of all … Let love be genuine.
And it culminates in the most powerful of statement.
21Do not be overcome by evil,
but overcome evil with good.
This is powerful stuff.
There are many wonderful things we can do.
This month we are supporting a charity in our communion collection which gives each of us a challenge – not just to give of our money, but to give of ourselves.
Janet Brown is going to take up the story.
"The timing is excellent as this is Transplantweek. There is a website specifically for this as well as the NKF (National Kidney Federation ) site.
Janet shared her own story of kidney failure and twelve years ago having a kidney transplant. She spoke movingly of her indebtedness to someone who 'gave' her a new life. She spoke of the way 90% of people would be willing to accept a transplant if needed, but only 30% have signed up on the register. Janet reminded us that it is no longer adequate to carry a donor card, but people have to sign up on the Register. And also let their relatives know. Janet explained that in the event of a donation becoming possible (and she spoke of one person of 104 whose cornea was suitable for transplant!) the family would always be consulted. So it was important they were aware of your wishes.
Janet spoke of the place of her own faith when faced with her illness. She spoke of the place of prayer in her situation.
She found she couldn't pray for a transplant to become available because it meant someone had to die. Janet spoke of the way she struggled to pray for physical healing for myself in this situation.
Janet went on to say how wonderful it was to know she was being encircled with prayer, and upheld by prayer. "It is at times like this when we can't pray for ourselves the knowledge that others are praying for us is so valuable." Janet went on to stress how important it was to have prayer groups, email prayer chains and the like to strengthen that sense of being upheld in prayer.
"In my case when recovering from the transplant it was almost a physical feeling of being uplifted that I knew so many were praying for me."